Most of the deaths occurred in Zhengzhou, a city of 12 million people, where the metro system was partially flooded. The situation is also grim in other parts of Henan – where the rains will continue until at least Thursday afternoon.
In Zhengzhou on Tuesday, with 20 centimeters of rain, the precipitation fell in one hour more than in three days in the flooded German convoys. The muddy waters of the Yellow River inundated subway lines, leaving passengers trapped underground. There are videos on social media of people crammed to the waist or shoulders in the water in submerged subway cars, or trying to escape the rapidly rushing water through a higher ledge in a subway tunnel. Five hundred people were rescued from the metro, twelve did not survive the flood.
“The water was hitting my chest. I was really scared. The most frightening thing was the air he was breathing in the subway carriage less and less,” one survivor told Chinese Twitter service Sina Weibo.
The metro was very busy due to the bad weather, because the above ground traffic was paralyzed by the water and the trolleybus could no longer drive.
3/3: Unusual scenes of floods in central China – commuters on the Zhengzhou subway. There are other videos circulating on WeChat that show people in even worse predicaments – apparently very devastating floods. pic.twitter.com/hCJYq3ANyU
– Bill Birtles 20 July 2021
From Saturday, Zhengzhou had to deal with the amount of rain in three days that usually falls in an entire year. Other parts of China are also affected by bad weather, but water levels in tributaries of the Yellow River and Hai He have exceeded all warning levels.
It caused heavy rainfall in the high pressure areas of the South Pacific and Typhoon N Fa, which swept through two coastal provinces and brought additional rains to Henan. According to Chinese meteorologists, exceptional weather conditions occur only “once every thousand years.”
Zhengzhou is located on the Yellow River, nicknamed the “Sorrow of China” due to the annual floods. Plains absorbing excess water from the Yellow River have been rapidly filled with new residential areas in recent decades, with proper sanitation construction often delayed. Also, agricultural activities and a large amount of dams prevent the rapid discharge of high water.
1.2 million people were affected by the floods. Across Henan, towns and villages are inundated and the situation remains critical as about thirty overcrowded reservoir dams are on the verge of bursting. Chinese President Xi Jinping described the situation on Chinese state television as “extremely dangerous” on Wednesday (local time).
According to Chinese state television, the first aid kit alone is worth $15 million. The economic damage is still unknown, but it will be enormous. With 94 million inhabitants and an area the size of Austria, Henan is one of the most densely populated provinces, which includes large industrial areas as well as agriculture.
In the city of Luoyang, on Tuesday, soldiers blew up a large dam, already weakened by gaps, by soldiers who helped fight the floods. This is to prevent residents from being surprised by a new breach of the dam. In Dengfeng, an aluminum factory exploded and sank.
Hundreds of thousands of people have now been saved. They were evacuated from hotels, schools, residential areas and hospitals suffering from power outages and floods. A teaching hospital in Zhengzhou had to transfer 600 seriously ill patients.
City buses in Zhengzhou are now running again, but 2,000 stranded passengers are still waiting at a large train station to start running again. It is said that seven hundred passengers got stuck for 40 hours in a train stuck in the water. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled.